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What Is a 5HP Air Compressor?

By Amy Rodriguez
Updated May 17, 2024
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The 5 horsepower (HP) air compressor is a stationary machine that delivers forced air to attached tools, such as nail guns or sanders. This forced air powers the tools' functions better than a direct electrical cord or gas fuel system, allowing the tool to work longer and more powerfully for the user. A 5HP (4 kilowatt) air compressor uses a stronger motor compared to lower horsepower machines.

Air compressors normally run between 1 and 10HP, making the 5HP air compressor a medium size unit. It is normally matched with a relatively large air tank, between 60 and 80 gallons (227 to 303 liters). The motor's power, combined with a large tank size, allows a worker to force more air into the tool for a longer period of time. Worker productivity is enhanced with this powerful machine.

As a result of the 5HP air compressor's powerful motor and large tank, more energy-intensive tools can be run off it. Tools, such as grinders, use a lot of energy for basic functions; the powerful compressor easily runs the tool without power interruption. Improperly matched large tools and small compressors result in poor functioning, such as slow tool rotation. In contrast, a smaller tool combined with a large compressor can result in an overheating of the tool, causing irreparable damage.

A main drawback to the 5HP air compressor is its need for higher electrical voltage. The high horsepower requires the compressor be attached to a 220 to 240 volt power source, instead of the standard United States wall outlet voltage of 110 to 120 volts. As a result, the 5HP air compressor will need to be directly wired to an electrical panel or attached to a separate power supply set for 220 to 240 volts.

A benefit to using the 5HP air compressor is its ability to function indoors. The electrical power does not release harmful fumes like a gas powered compressor. As a result, the compressor can run continually indoors, powering a hobbyist's shop or even an industrial machine shop. Although the compressor is stationary, it can be placed on a dolly for limited transport between work benches, creating a versatile and cost effective way of powering necessary tools.

The hardworking 5HP air compressor uses oil for lubricating hot, moving internal parts. The oil will need to be monitored and replaced periodically, depending on frequency of compressor use. Over time, oil that becomes thick will cause the compressor to malfunction, producing less air flow and power.

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